Makes 16 bars
(adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9” square baking pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil; set aside.
Place the melted butter in a large bowl and whisk in the brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold into wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until well mixed.
Press half of the dough into the prepared pan. Pour the salted caramel sauce onto the center of the dough and spread into an even layer, leaving about a ½-inch of space around the edges. Drop the remaining cookie dough in spoonfuls over the caramel and gently spread until the caramel is covered.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a thin coating of caramel.
Cool the bars on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set. Cut into 16 squares and serve.
Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
6 Tbs butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
½ cup heavy cream
½ – 1 tsp flaky or coarse sea salt
1 tsp vanilla (and/or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)
Place sugar in a medium to large saucepan (mixture will bubble up and expand as cool ingredients are added to the hot pan). Cook over medium heat until sugar just begins to melt. Stir gently, trying to keep sugar crystals off of the sides of the pan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts completely and is a medium amber color (about 350°F if you use an instant-read thermometer). Reduce heat to low and quickly whisk in butter chunks, stirring constantly.
Stir in cream, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in salt and vanilla. Pour caramel immediately into a glass jar or heat-safe bowl to cool. Do NOT scrape sides or bottom of the pan with a spatula. If you do, you are likely to get sugar crystals into your nice smooth caramel. If the caramel has formed crystals while cooking, you can pour it from the pan through a fine sieve into the jar to remove any crystals before cooling.
Caramel can be kept in a covered jar at room temperature for several weeks.